By way of reintroduction, a brief note before our first edition of the season. ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week, celebrating the player that has the best stats, impact or storyline to earn the honor. We accepted nominations from every league and every level, from the pros to colleges to youth leagues to beer leagues. To nominate someone, please email us here by midnight on Monday each week. Photos and context are encouraged!
Remember Andrew Hammond? The goalie whose incredible run for the Ottawa Senators in 2015 earned him hamburgers “for life” from local McDonald’s franchises, because his nickname was “The Hamburglar?” And then found out that “for life” meant $1,000 in coupons, which is like “for a decade” at most?
Anyhow, he was traded to the Avalanche in the Matt Duchene deal and signed with the Wild this summer. He’s started strong: 2-0-0 with 47 saves on 49 shots, giving up just one goal in each of his first two games.
Hayley Scamurra, Buffalo Beauts (NWHL)
The Beauts won their National Women’s Hockey League opener, topping the Connecticut Whale by a 4-0 score. Scamurra had a hand in all four of those goals, scoring two of them and assisting on two others. It’s Scamurra’s second full season in the league, scoring 18 points in 17 games last season to win NWHL top rookie honors. It took her until Nov. 18 to score her first goal, so she’s a bit ahead of schedule this time.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
One of the greatest names in hockey also happens to be a heck of a goalie. Luukkonen stopped 99 shots in three games, winning them all, to earn player of the week honors in the Ontario Hockey League. That included a 46-save effort in a 3-2 win over Niagara last Thursday. The 19-year-old hails from Espoo, Finland, and the answer is yes: He is the Pokémon evolution of goalies named Pekka.
Brian Morgan, Reading Royals (ECHL)
The pride of Windham, New Hampshire, started off the ECHL season with a five-point game against the Adirondack Thunder (one goal, four assists). He then had the game-winning goal against the Thunder in his second game of the season. The six points in two games mean that he already has a third of the points he scored all of last season, his first in the ECHL.
The Drinks (beer league)
On occasion, we’ll extend the Best Player In The World Of The Week field to include players (plural), because the candidates are just that worthy. Such is the case with the Drinks, a beer league team in the Cooper Division at Anaheim Ice in Anaheim. They’re here not for anything on the ice, per se, but because they said “yes” to this dress: a hockey sweater fit for a Prince.
It was the suggestion of defenseman Michael Navarro, who also thanks his team for putting up with him blasting Captain & Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” as a pump-up song and for “jumping up in the offense as a defenseman and never skating back to my position.” He tells us he’s still working on getting his team to change its name to “The Blouses.”
Yes, Auston Matthews had eight points in three games and was named the first star by the NHL. But he’s Auston Matthews. He’s the new hotness. Jonathan Toews had to read stories for several months about how both he and the Blackhawks were old and busted. So the captain shot out of the gate with five goals and an assist in Chicago’s 2-0-1 start, earning him an honorable mention here. That included a hat trick against the St. Louis Blues that was capped with an overtime game winner. Reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated! (Please disregard that last statement when he ends up with 20 goals for the entire season again.)
And the best player in the world of the week is …
Dwyer, who played 416 games in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, would have a strong case for best player in the world for his offensive output alone, scoring nine points in three games over the weekend in the U.K. Elite Ice Hockey League. But Dwyer wins this week because of a goal he didn’t score — although it will forever be known as “The Pants Goal”:
ICYMI: Our greatest ‘no-goal’ ever��
– Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) October 7, 2018
Against Belfast on Saturday, teammate Darcy Murphy fired a shot on goal. The puck bounced off Dwyer and ended up dribbling down his back into his hockey pants. Dwyer didn’t see the puck on the ice, but then felt it on his person. So he did something ingenious: As Juvenile once rapped (in the radio edit version), he backed that thang up.
Dwyer crouched down and slid into the net across the goal line, potentially completing a hat trick with a puck stuck in his pants, and in the process coming up with a sixth way of scoring that Mario Lemieux never even considered.
“The puck got stuck in my pants, and once I realized it was there I figured I’d back myself into net and see what happens,” he said after the game.
What happened? The referee took a few minutes to suss it out, and then ruled that it was no goal. It was ye olde “intent to blow” rule, in which a referee ends the play in his mind before blowing his whistle. Hence, the puck was dead before Dwyer entered the net.
“It would have been cool to tell that story for the rest of my life, but it was fun and it was a laugh on the bench,” he said.
Not only that, sir, but The Pants Goal (That Wasn’t) has also earned you the honor of being The Best Player In The World Of The Week.